Rabbi Feingold's D'var Torah

scroll

As we roll the Torah forward each week in the synagogue, the weight of the scroll shifts from the right side to the left.  At this time of year, the two sides are about even, making the role of the Hagbaha, the person who lifts and opens the Torah after it is read, a bit easier.  It is said that the exact midpoint of the Torah falls in this week’s Torah portion, Tzav, and that it falls on the verse:  “And he put upon him the tunic” [Leviticus 8:7-8], referring to the clothing of the High Priest.   Apparently, in some Chumashim (Torah commentaries), it is printed in the margin at this spot:  “Half the Torah in verses.”  In this week’s Parashat Hashavuah, weekly Torah portion study session at 9:30 on Shabbat morning, we are going to check if our Chumashim have this commentary.  And we will examine varying commentaries about what exactly is the midpoint of the Torah (it depends on who you ask and what you are counting!) and what meaning is found in the midpoints that are suggested.

BEST WISHES FOR A HAPPY AND KOSHER PESACH!

Vayikra
As we initiate several weeks of reading from Leviticus in the synagogue this Shabbat, we acknowledge the challenge that much of Leviticus presents for us.   In this week’s D’var Torah at the Reform Judaism website, Rabbi Lance Sussman discusses this in detail. http://www.reformjudaism.org/learning/torah-study/vayikra/between-rock-and-hard-place-navigating-book-leviticus.   But it is not just Leviticus, with its arcane material, that challenges us.  What do we do when we find teachings anywhere in our tradition that trouble or offend us?  In my sermon this Shabbat, I will take up the subject of how we deal with difficult texts, with the help of some insights from 100 year old actor, Kirk Douglas!


If you like drama, this week’s Torah portion, Ki Tissa, is a real winner! It contains the story of the Golden Calf:  In their impatience, waiting for Moses to come down from Mt. Sinai with the commandments, the Israelites ask Aaron to create an idol for them to worship. Surprisingly, Aaron, the chief priest and brother of Moses, complies.  Moses shatters the tablets of the commandments, freshly carved with the finger of God.  He takes the Golden Calf, grinds it into powder, spreads the powder on the water, and makes the Israelites drink. Those who still do not wish to be loyal to God are killed by sword, and a plague is brought on to punish the rest. (Ex. 32) Then Moses returns to God to receive a new set of commandments.  This unforgettable passage in the Torah gives us insight into the challenge of introducing monotheism in ancient times.  It was not easily accepted, and, in fact, well into the settlement in Israel the backsliding to idol worship continued.

JULY FOOD OF THE MONTH: Canned Tuna  

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URJ Weekly Torah Commentary

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